We’ve been celebrating “Screen-Free Week” (formerly known as “TV Turnoff Week”) at my school for over 10 years. For this week we challenge the students to consider trying to go the whole week without using a screen for entertainment. Successful students fill out a contract and recording sheet, have it signed by an adult, and get 10 tickets to enter into raffles for fun screen-free items like Ozobots, basketballs, art kits, games, etc.
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Screen-Free Week usually falls at the end of April/beginning of May. You can find lots of information and resources at the Screen-Free Week website here: http://www.screenfree.org
It used to be so simple: just turn off the TV. We would even suggest they tape the contract we sent home to their television. But now screens are all around us and they are necessary for many of our daily tasks. It’s really more appropriate to challenge our students and their families to look at how they use screens and to try to use them less for the week. Who knows where this might lead? Perhaps they will look at their screen use in a different way.
Some schools in my district have given up on Screen Free Week. The librarians and teachers who used to organize it say that we are too dependent on screens to even try to give them up for a whole week! But I hate to give up the chance to help my students’ families take a closer look at screen use, especially because we are all dependent on screens in our lives – it’s a chance to prioritize and examine what’s really important!
Are you thinking about implementing Screen Free Week at your school? Let me share some tips that have worked for us!
- Ask students and their families to set priorities for reducing screen time in their lives. Then ask them to record their successes for one week. We use a simple contract that is sent home a week prior to our Screen Free Week.
- Help students find some new activities that don’t use a screen! I set up a book display with tubs of books for different topics: learn a language, do an art project, try a new sport, build something, do a puzzle, try a magic trick, etc.
- Create an interactive bulletin board! This is another way to inspire students to find new screen free activities. Ask students to brainstorm ideas for fun activities that don’t need a screen. Have them write and/or illustrate them and add to your bulletin board. Display these ideas in a prominent place in your school and you will have lots of students and staff stopping by for some ideas!
- Spend some time during library class reading books that will encourage discussion regarding screen use. Some of my favorites are Good Night iPad and If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by Ann Droyd, When Charlie McButton Lost Power by Suzanne Collins, TV Takeover: Questioning Television by Guofang Wan, and At the Controls: Questioning Video Games by Neil Andersen.
- Facilitate library lessons that lead students to brainstorm and plan fun activities that don’t require a screen. Students can play Screen Free Charades or other games, list activities in an ABC Taxonomy, illustrate their ideas in a booklet, or write them on sticky notes. Some of these products can be displayed on the bulletin board you created from #3 above.
- Offer an opportunity for students to win prizes if they complete the contract you sent home (see #1 above). My parent council helps purchase prizes and I use Scholastic dollars from by book fair to buy items like Makey Makeys, Ozobots, sporting goods equipment, and arts & crafts kits. We give away prizes at a school-wide assembly.
If you would like more help setting up a Screen Free Week challenge at your school, take a look at my Screen Free Activities Kit:
…or grab them both in the BUNDLE!:
Do you celebrate Screen Free Week at your school? Comment below to let us know how you make it happen!
Be well and have fun!